This article is the second in a series of articles in which I will profile every woman astronaut, cosmonaut and taikonaut who has been into space. Last time we looked at the career of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Today I’m profiling cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, the second woman in space. (The feature image above is a collection of drawings of women astronauts by artist Phillip J Bond. You can find Phillip’s wonderful series on women astronauts here.)
Svetlana Savitskaya is a record breaking Russian aviator and cosmonaut.
Born in Moscow in 1948, Svetlana was raised in a middle class family. In high school she was a keen parachutist, and in 1970 she won 6th place in FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) World Aerobic Championship, went on to set 18 international world records in MiG aircraft, and set 3 international records in team parachute jumping. In 1974, Svetlana began a career as a pilot after urging from her father, a Deputy Commander of the Soviet Air Defences and World War II air hero. Her father had recognised her interest in flying and parachuting and was very keen for Svetlana to pursue pilot school. Just two years after finishing pilot school Svetlana went on to become a test pilot. Continue reading →
This article is the first in a series of articles in which I will profile every woman astronaut, cosmonaut and taikonaut who has been into space. The last time I checked 58 women have travelled into space, by the end of this year there may be a few more! We’re going to start this series at the beginning – with Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. (The feature image above is a collection of drawings of women astronauts by artist Phillip J Bond. You can find Phillip’s wonderful series on women astronauts here.)
Born in 1937, Tereshkova was a textile worker from Maslennikovo, a small village in the far west of Russia. Tereshkova never yearned to go into space, she left school early to support her family, but continued her education by correspondence. Tereshkova worked in the local textile mill, and earned certification as a cotton spinning technology expert. She went on to become the secretary of the local Komsomol (Young Communist League). Tereshkova’s passion was parachuting. She was introduced to the sport of parachuting by a friend and was so taken by the sport she soon began parachuting regularly and set up the Textile Mill Workers Parachute Club.
In 1962 when the Soviet Air Force advertised for 50 cosmonauts to join the new space program, it included 5 positions for women. At the time Nikita Khrushchev thought that the U.S. was considering sending women from the Mercury Program into space. This spurred the Russians on to select a number of women for their own space program, with the aim of getting them into space before the US. Continue reading →
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Astronaut Sunita Williams is one amazing woman.
Not only is Sunni a Navy Helicopter test pilot, a record breaking astronaut who ran the Boston marathon in space, but she recently completed her first Triathlon in space. This last mission (Expedition 33) Sunni competed in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. In Space. Seriously.
This past week NASAannounced that in 2015 they would be sending two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for a year-long mission. This is an expected, and necessary step in the preparation for human spaceflight to Mars. If we are to have human explorers on the surface of Mars, we need to understand the effects on humans of long-term space travel. At the moment trips to the ISS last on average 5-6 months. A mission to Mars may take 6-8 months, plus an extended time on the planet, and a 6-8 month return trip. In reality astronauts could be sent on missions of 2 years or longer.
The ISS as it orbits Earth. Photo credit NASA.
Astronauts are exposed to a number of conditions in space that can pose serious health risks, especially if exposure takes place over a long period of time. There are lots of hazards and risks for humans in space, including: ascent and descent accidents; space sickness; debris collisions; micrometeorites; hazardous and toxic gas leaks on the spacecraft; EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) accidents; sudden unexpected illness and the list goes on. Today I’m talking about the specific issues that affect astronauts during long distance flights. (By the way I use the term ‘astronaut’ as a general term, which includes astronauts from various nations, including cosmonauts from Russia, and teikonauts from China.)
If you’ve ever wondered what the ISS looked like on the inside, and how astronauts (and cosmonauts) go about their daily business? Well here’s the tour for you!
Outgoing ISS Commander Sunita Williams gives us a brief but super interesting video tour of the ISS. It’s a fascinating tour of all the modules, including the kitchen, toilet (Sunita describes the process in alarming detail…) command centre, sleeping area, right down to the extremely cramped space in the Soyuz vehicle.